One of my best friends called me this morning at 6:30 AM to say the Hebrew words that translate: “Blessed is the True Judge”:
We write these words with great sadness and disbelief — our beloved Rosh Yeshiva, HaRav Noach Yisrael Noach ben Yitzchak Mattisyahu Weinberg – passed away this morning, Feb 5/ Shevat 11.
“Reb Noach” changed my life more than any other person. We were not very close, but in many important respects he was like a father to me. He was the founder of the Aish HaTorah College of Jewish Studies, as it’s called officially, otherwise known simply as “Aish HaTorah” or “Aish.” Aish is a system of educational programs, including a full-blown yeshiva for students of all levels in Jerusalem as well as introductory and outreach programs throughout the world based on the premise of getting Jews back to Judaism.
I attended one such program, in Israel, after I emerged from college in 1985 as a puffy purposeless preppy who at least had the good sense to look for meaning, direction and truth. I was a little disappointed to realize, as I did, that Aish HaTorah was actually the vanguard of a whole “movement” — I didn’t want to be part of a movement; I just wanted to move. But I did move, and Aish helped move me, and what I learned and became and, in no small measure, what I left behind have made my life what it is today in virtually every positive aspect of it.
I was not young enough, or at least not in Aish early enough in my life, to be a close student, much less any kind of disciple, of R’ Noach. I don’t think I could have, anyway. I don’t believe we were simpatico that way. But still, personally, R’ Noach taught me plenty. He taught me how to live a life of resolute meaning, how to focus ambition on something greater than oneself, and how to give and give and give.
And though R’ Noach was sick, and I had been anticipating this day for years, and even had a premonition of his passing yesterday, I am very, very sad.
And when I found the picture above I realized that I loved R’ Noach more than I perhaps understood until just now; and when I found the next picture in my scrapbook, of him warmly kissing my then-young children as if they were his own (for they were), I understood this even more, and even harder; and I let myself feel and admit that I miss him far more than I ever thought I would when I anticipated this moment, even already.
Originally posted here.
There will be a hesped for Rabbi Weinberg, delivered by Gedolei Yisroel, on Sunday Feb. 8th at 8pm
Yeshiva Ohr Yitzchok
1214 East 15th St. between L & M
A Woman’s seating section will be available